Friday, January 14, 2011

Another example of how science falls short in wrestling with ethics

in this case, rape:
... dilettante followers may still be inclined to detect a misogyny in these investigations that simply is not there. As University of Michigan psychologist William McKibbin and his colleagues write in a 2008 piece for the Review of General Psychology, "No sensible person would argue that a scientist researching the causes of cancer is thereby justifying or promoting cancer. Yet some people argue that investigating rape from an evolutionary perspective justifies or legitimizes rape." The unfortunate demonization of this brand of inquiry is rooted in the fallacy of biological determinism (according to which men are programmed by their genes to rape and have no free will to do otherwise) and the naturalistic fallacy (that because rape is natural it must be acceptable). These are resoundingly false assumptions that reveal a profound ignorance of evolutionary biology.
Morality is difficult to quantify. Faith--confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see--is still required to model good and evil. And I'm not saying there isn't failure, even with faith.

Just don't expect an empiricist to answer honestly about your next ethical dilemma.

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